“Sea Change”: Navigating change and mobility in contemporary seafaring

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Johanna Markkula
Date and Time: 
Monday, February 4, 2013 - 12:00pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


Seafaring has long been the main vehicle for trade, conquest and movement between faraway societies, and has in some sense always been global in nature. However, the maritime industry has also seen a number of recent changes that can arguably be conceptualized as globalizing. Based on anthropological research carried out onboard a Swedish flagged cargo-ship with mixed Swedish and Filipino crew, this paper discusses recent developments in seafaring and the effects that these changes have on the everyday lives of contemporary seafarers. Through the lens of one particular event onboard, a flag-change, this paper looks at changes in seafarers’ mobility and the transformation of their relationships with the world onboard as well as outside the ship.


Johanna Markkula is a 2nd year PhD Student at the Department of Anthropology at Stanford. She has a BA in Anthropology and French from Concordia University, Canada and a MA in Social Anthropology from Stockholm University, Sweden and Université Lumière Lyon 2, France. Johanna’s research concerns issues of mobility, labor migration, globalization, transnational processes and intercultural communication in contemporary seafaring. Her last project looked at articulations of global economic and political processes in the everyday lives of seafarers.

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